Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Religious Tuesday

Today was the day of religious visitation. We got the Metro to Cite - a very cute station - on the Ile de la Cite.

The line at Notre Dame looked daunting, but actually it moved very quickly. Unlike the line that stretched the whole length of the cathedral to climb the towers - we decided it would waste too much time waiting for that.

I didn't really know much about Notre Dame but it's pretty big and has lots of little 'chapels' all around the inside edges with statues and amazing stained glass windows (little squares of which can open - this amazed me, it seemed odd that someone had thought of something so practical when designing something so elaborate and beautiful). I liked the old car glimpsed through an open side door.

And the lighting on the pieta from the back. Among lots of other things of course. Actually, I realised I was probably committing extreme blasphemy as I said things under my breath in reaction to some of the giant statues and stained glass windows.

After looking inside we went and sat in a little park behind the cathedral.

I think I like the back of Notre Dame better than the front.

Then we crossed the bridge to the Ile St-Louis for a wander and ended up eating lunch at a little bistro. The food came up from the kitchen in a tiny elevator. This pleased me greatly and I kept trying to secretly take a photo of the waiter getting it out. An American family came and sat next to us and the daughter had the best tantrum ever when she spilt juice on herself. Her cries of, 'But I look like I've wet myself' could probably be heard throughout both islands. The Dad also had some great things to say for himself, such as 'This is an A and B conversation, so C yourself out of it.' This was to his son who was complaining that his sister should basically harden up. I agreed. She looked about 12 but whined like a 4 year old.

Quite a few shops had signs in the windows like this, saying they're closed for summer holidays.

We had excellent gelatto on our wander back to the main island, where we visited La Concierge, a former palace and then prison. Marie Antoinette was kept there before her beheading.

We then crossed another bridge and saw the fake beach set up along the Seine, as well as some of the famous Seine-side book and print vendors.

Another successful Metro navigation courtesy of moi, sent us to the Mosquee de Paris in the Latin Quartier. This was actually my favourite place so far. It was very quiet and cool (it was pretty hot by the time we got there) and the mosaics are so detailed and pretty.

This is what you see when you walk in. I actually said to Ed, 'It's like one of the Hamilton Gardens!' Well, it is (my post about my visit to the Hamilton Gardens proves it).

I took a millionty photos at the mosque, I've had a hard time limiting the ones I post here...

There's a little cafe around the corner from the main entrance that seems to be part of the mosque complex, where we had a sweet treat and some very very sweet mint tea.

I really really loved the tiles.

Then we went for a bit of a look around the Latin Quartier, the Sorbonne (giant, also inaccessible, the Universitie du Pedicure around the corner is surely much easier to get into, both physically and intellectually, but then I'm clearly making assumptions):

And a great English language bookshop (mostly secondhand but some new books), Shakespeare and Company.

Then it was back to Montmarte, the side I hadn't been to yet. Who knew there was such a market for erotic lingerie, among other things. The Moulin Rouge was a bit of a let down. We had delicious dinner and then walked up to the Sacre Coeur for a look inside. On the way we saw a theatre opportunity...

And some lovely graffiti - although I don't know what it says.

Being 9.30pm the line to get into the Sacre Coeur was non-existent. No photos allowed inside (and unlike Notre Dame where there are lots of signs saying no photos allowed but everyone taking them, you really weren't allowed to take photos); I have to say that's probably a good thing. I liked the Sacre Coeur more than Notre Dame, smaller but the painting on the ceiling above the altar is fantastic and the domes are lovely. Not quite so giant and daunting.

The dome was closed so we couldn't climb up to have a look, but I think my feet were grateful for that. Delicate yams that they are, this heat plus all the walking we're doing means they are not having a good time. Well they'd better get over it over night because I can't see us doing any less tomorrow.

(Ed is also keeping a blog of his travels, so if you want to see Paris from his, quite different and much wittier, perspective:

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